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How to make a great first impression

So much of life is about building and maintaining healthy relationships. Strong social skills are so valuable, which is why we place such a huge emphasis on the social aspect when hiring tutors – an ability to connect and relate to a student is just as important as a strong academic record in my eyes.

A big part of this comes down to the first impression we make when we meet someone. Research suggests that we make a judgement about someone within 7 seconds of meeting them to determine if we trust them or not. You also never get a second chance to make a first impression, so it crucial to get it right the first time.

Here are 5 ways to make an incredible first impression, whether you be a tutor meeting a student for the first time, preparing for a job interview or taking a girl out on a date:

1. Be on time

This is so simple but so important. If you have arranged to meet someone or scheduled a session with a student, arrive on time. Being late is disrespectful. Arriving on time let’s the other person know that you value them and respects their time.

2. Smile

A smile is the easiest form of persuasion. Few things build trust like a genuine eye-wrinkling smile – not a fake grin, but an real smile that brings out the lines next to your eyes. Whenever you meet anyone for the first time smile and let them know without saying a word how happy you are to see them.

3. Be presentable

Remember how I said it only takes 7 seconds to decide if you like someone? You have got to assume most of that is non-verbal – so how you look is really important.

No one likes being told what to wear; I get that. But I think it is important to dress in a way that matches the person you are meeting. It is just as easy to over-dress than it is under; don’t wear a suit to the beach, don’t wear track pants to a job interview. Be clean and well groomed and look confident in how you present yourself.

4. Use their name

When they tell you their name, aim to repeat it back (naturally) a few times in the first few minutes. Using their name let’s them feel valued and unique, and you are far more likely to remember it next time.

5. Be attentive

Pay close attention to what they are doing and saying. Read their body language – are they pulling away from you, and therefore you need to give them some more space? Are they smiling and grinning back as you crack a joke, and can therefore be a bit more informal with them? The better you can read people, the better your first impression will go.

Good luck and make your first impression count!

What makes a great tutor

Finding the right tutor for your child can be a daunting task. You can scroll through endless ads on Gumtree or your local Facebook group without really knowing what to look for or how to ensure they tick the right boxes.

At Alchemy we make your life easy because we do the work for you. We make sure every single tutor that works with us is the very best at what they do, and then back this up with our first session 100% happiness guarantee – so if you aren’t wowed by them it’s on us.

We’ve been doing this a long time – so we know what qualities make a great tutor. Of course there are things that every tutor should have – like a Working with children check, strong knowledge of the subject they are teaching and excellent communication skills (like all Alchemy tutors do). However this is all about identifying what makes a tutor great – how to spot the ones that dazzle that little bit more.

Here are 5 qualities of a great tutor (and 5 things you’ll find in every Alchemy tutor!):

Your child finishes the session with a smile on their face

Being a great tutor is so much more than just conveying knowledge. It is inspiring, motivating and believing in the student. A great tutor leaves each session with their student feeling more confident and capable than when they arrived. You will know if you’ve got a great tutor because your child will look forward to their session each week!

They know what the student needs to focus on without your guidance

Great tutors know your child’s curriculum and calendar like it is their own. They are aware of gaps in learning and areas of focus after the first session. You can remain confident that your child is in the safest of hands – you don’t need to watch them like a hawk to make sure work is being done, but can trust your tutor knows exactly what to do.

They are reliable

This is so important. Great tutors are dependable – you know they are going to be there every week for your child and won’t flake out on you at the last minute. They respond to your messages in a timely manner and efficiently communicate admin matters.

They are long term focussed

A great tutor thinks big picture. It isn’t just about how can they maximise marks in an upcoming exam, but how can they ensure the right foundations are in place to ensure long-term understanding of the content. This may take a little longer, but it ensures your child is really learning every week rather than simply remembering content from a text book.

They are 100% committed

A great tutor feels like an extension of your family – a partner in your child’s education, rather than just someone you hire to do some work. They are just as committed and invested as you are in seeing your child succeed. They make your child’s sessions a priority and you know they are in it for the long haul.

These are just a few of the qualities that come together to make a great tutor. When searching for a tutor on your own it can often be a gamble – but when choosing Alchemy to provide a tutor for your child it is a certainty.

If you’d like to get started with an Alchemy tutor you can book online here, or call us on 02 8294 8215.

The importance of the family dinner table

We live in a busy world. As a parent you’re managing work, juggling kids, orchestrating a packed schedule of pick ups and drop offs and working through an endless list of household chores that never seems to get any shorter.

Despite the amount of xbox your child may play, they feel busy too. They have all these pressures that make them feel pressed on all sides; schoolwork, social expectations, questions about their future. It might not always seem like it as you weave around their legs as they sit on the couch while you try to vacuum, but they feel the pressure too.

That is why I love the family dinner table.

In this instant world where we look to get things done as quickly as possible, the family dinner table is quiet in the noise. It is a breath of fresh air in the chaos of the week. It is a time to come together as family, turn the TV off, put our phones aside and enjoy that time together.

It is an opportunity for you to get more than just grunts from your teenagers behind their phones. It gives you a window to find out what your primary schooler learnt at school. It is an opportunity for you to teach them valuable life skills in that 30 minutes that they focus on what you say.

Eating together as a family doesn’t have to happen every night. But it should be a priority in your week. Once, twice, thrice – whatever you as a family can manage. Lock it in and make sure everyone is there.

Here are 5 reasons why the family dinner table should be a priority in our homes:

1. Eating together provides a time that kids can count on spending with their parents.

That consistent family dinner time is something that your children can look forward to because they know they will get your undivided attention.

2. It improves kids’ thinking and linguistic development.

Rather than staring at their phones or watching TV, they are engaging in sustained conversations about interesting topics. It challenges them to think, communicate and respond.

3. More family meals lead to greater relationships.

Not only amongst family members, but outside of this also. It teaches children to slow down and take time to communicate, teaching them valuable life skills that they can apply in their interactions with others.

4. It gives you a window in to your child’s world.

It can be very hard to notice changes in your child if you only spend quality time with them once a month. Having regular meals together will allow you to see if there are any issues or challenges confronting them and give you an opportunity to monitor their development.

5. Family meals are healthier for everyone.

When you are busy it can be so easy to just grab the easiest meal possible – often something that is not good for your body. By setting aside this time, you will be eating a meal that has taken time to prepare and will be much better for you in the long run.

These are just five simple reasons, but I am sure you can think of dozens more. I challenge you to prioritise the family dinner table and make it a key part of your week – your children will thrive and you will get a chance to take a break from the madness of life.


Don’t lose your voice!

I’ve been so inspired by the March for our lives movement in America. Obviously it takes place in a land far away, surrounding an issue that we (fortunately) don’t have to deal with here in Australia, but I am so inspired seeing young people take the initiative where adults would not.

I am not trying to make a political statement here, this isn’t about that at all. So often I see students think that they don’t matter and that their voice doesn’t deserve to be heard. They get lumped in with millenials; entitled, lazy and too optimistic. But in my experience working with young people, this isn’t accurate.

Most student know they want to make a change, want to improve the world – they just don’t know how. They feel powerless amongst a population of adults that dismiss them too easily. So this powerless can come across as lazy. They are optimists, and believe that they have something unique to offer the world which can be taken as entitlement.

Most young people I know are hard working, humble and willing to get their hands dirty. Sometimes they just need an effort to throw their energy at.

Students, don’t lose your voice. Don’t let the world beat it out of you. If there is a wrong in the world, find a way to make it right. A 20m tree starts out with just a seed – and you can be that seed in the world.

Every great idea, every great change in the world started with one person. Even when it seems like no one is paying attention to you, don’t lose your voice.


3 ways to stop your kids being bored

This title might be deceiving. I don’t mean 3 ways to entertain your kids so they aren’t bored. I am talking about building the muscle and resilience within them so they don’t turn to complaining about being bored the minute the iPad or TV is turned off.

Here are 3 ways you can help make this happen.

1. It is a very different world for a young person to when we were young. They live in the instant world. I remember as a kid having to sit through TV shows I hated to get to the ones I liked – but in 2018 this doesn’t happen anymore. They can watch whatever they want, when they want it on Netflix or Youtube. When my daughter asks for a snack in the car and we tell her to wait until we get home, she carries on endlessly until we give in out of frustration. She gives a new app on the iPad about 4 seconds to load before getting tired of waiting and opening another.

These simple moments of instant gratification may be causing more harm than we can see.

The ability to delay gratification is a huge indicator of success later in life. Health, wealth & fulfilment – these are all dependent on the ability to delay the enjoyment until a later time. Don’t eat that cookie right now. Don’t sit down in front of the TV but go for a run first. Don’t buy that top on your credit card, but save up for a few weeks. Work hard now so you can afford to go on that holiday next year.

Allowing our children to get everything they want instantly affects this development. It hinders their ability to handle stress. The reality is that the real world; the working world of offices and work sites aren’t like this. People don’t get what they want, when they want it all the time. If someone wants a pay rise, they don’t just get it, then need to put in the work and prove their worth far before they ever bring it up.

Try to teach your children to wait. To take a breath or do something else first. This will reap dividends in their psychological development and reduce the desire to get what they want as soon as they want it.

2. We have created these worlds where young people must be in a constant state of fun.

Video games, youtube, texting friends, playing at the playground. The moment our children aren’t doing something, we feel something is wrong so find something else to fill the void with. There is rarely time for them to just sit and be quiet. Or perhaps further, do something they don’t want to do – like help out around the house or in the kitchen.

Basic monotonous work is actually good for us. It builds resilience. It is the same muscle in our brains that makes us teachable at school.

When we flood our children’s lives with fun activities (because seeing our kids having fun makes us feel like good parents) we fail to exercise this muscle. When our children confront a problem at school they say things like ‘It’s too hard’ or ‘I can’t do it’, because the workable ‘muscle’ doesn’t get trained through fun – it gets trained through work.

3. Technology rules the world for anyone under the age of 18. If you want to see a teenager at their worst, take their phone away for an hour and watch all hell break loose. Compared to what happens on a screen, real life is ‘boring’. It is hard to compete with what they see on youtube or TV, and this changes their perspective of what is normal.

When you go to the gym for a long period of time you develop what is called muscle memory. This makes it harder and harder to tear the muscle and grow because your body adapts and gets used to the high level of strain. This is the same with the brain. When a child plays video games for 4 hours, their brain gets so used to high levels of stimulation that anything less than that can be seen as boring.

I don’t have a suggestion for how much screen time is right – nor do I have any specific rules for my own kids. But it is important to understand that when we default to technology as a babysitter it may be causing more harm then good.

Being bored is a complaint my 4 year old daughter pulls out regularly. It isn’t something we have taught her, so she must have picked it up at preschool. When she does it, we stop her and tell her that nothing is inherently boring and that she needs to find a way to make them interesting, whether this be cleaning up her room or eating her dinner.

I hope you can find a way to beat the boredom and ultimately set them up for success in school and beyond.